Title: Beauty and the Beast
Pairing: Castiel/Dean Winchester
Word Count: 11,500
Summary: Who is the mysterious creature who lives behind the high walls of Messenger Manor? Dean Winchester, an apprentice hunter, is determined to find out.
Notes: Written for the AR/Fusion Challenge, prompt #29: “SPN/Beauty and the Beast: Would prefer Castiel to be the ‘Beast’. Slash, please.” Thanks to for beta. The Beast’s appearance is inspired more than a little by this fanart by .
And then Dean went down to the front steps of the pub to wait.
The night was nearly over, he knew, but still time seemed to crawl until the sky began to turn grey and he heard the thunderous clatter of the black coach. Dean’s heart began to pound and he steeled himself with a stern, “You can’t back down now,” muttered under his breath.
The black coach came to a stop slowly in front of him, drawn by an enormous black horse, even bigger and blacker than Creedence. As before, there was no driver in the driver’s seat and no passenger within. Dean said, “I’m Dean Winchester. I’m John Winchester’s oldest son.” He took a deep breath.
The coach didn’t move.
Dean said, “I have come to take my father’s place with your master. I do this of my own free will.”
A moment more passed, and then, slowly, the door to the coach swung open and its steps descended. Dean climbed into the coach and put his bag on the seat, leaned back and tried not to jump when the steps folded themselves up and the door slammed shut. The coach leapt into motion, driving so fast that Dean had to brace himself against the roof and floor to keep from being thrown around the compartment.
He tried to watch the passing scenery but it was only a dark blur, though he could smell when they left the town and got out into the country. At one point they clattered over a bridge and Dean felt a shudder, suspecting it was the one where Castiel Messenger’s parents had died.
Gradually the light grew from grey to pink and then gold, and the sun had fully risen when the coach finally approached the tall, ivy-and-thorn-covered walls that could only be the former Messenger property. A great set of gates opened before them, just as ivy-covered as the rest of the walls, and then slammed shut behind them. Dean peered out the window and could see no sign of a gatekeeper.
The coach took the drive from the gate more slowly than the rest of the journey, and finally came to a stop at the front steps. The door swung open, again with no sign of a footman, and Dean grabbed his bag and climbed down. The manor was pale brown stone supported by darker wood beams, and while it didn’t look as broken-down as most abandoned houses Dean had seen, it had an air of desolation that made him shiver. The lawns and hedges, however, were trimmed and shaped, and while there was also ivy crawling up the manor’s walls it was not as thick as on the outer walls.
The wooden double doors at the top of the steps swung open. Dean looked back at the coach, but it was already rolling away to the stables. Of course, there were no answers to be found with the coach, and Dean could only hope there would be some inside.
He climbed the white stone steps and went in through the doors into a great hall. There was a staircase at the opposite end and doors all along the hall, interspersed with paintings or small statues in niches.
It was utterly silent.
Dean walked slowly down the hall and called, “Hello? Is anyone here?” He gasped when one of the doors slowly opened. He swallowed hard and resettled his bag on his shoulder, and went through the door and through the passageway behind it.
The passage opened to a dark room with thick curtains drawn over the windows, its only source of light a small fire crackling in a fireplace. At the edge of that small light a dark shape sat hunched in a chair. The creature wore a black cloak with the hood drawn low over his head, hiding his face, and his hands, gloved in black leather, rested on top of a wood cane.
Dean took a few steps into the room and then stopped. He didn’t know what to do or say, and the being was so still he might have been asleep.
He started when the being spoke. “You are not John Winchester.” His voice was low and gravelly, as if each word cost great pain to speak.
“I’m his son,” said Dean. “His oldest son. Are you the master of this house?”
“Then I’m your prisoner,” Dean said. “I have a little brother and he needs his father, while I’m . . .” He swallowed. “Older. So I came instead.”
“Your father sent you,” said the being.
“It was my idea. He may know I’m gone by now.” Dean swallowed again.
“He did not coerce you or force you.”
The creature was silent. The fire crackled. Dean shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Finally the creature said, “Very well. You will be given a room of your own. You may eat when you’re hungry and rest when you’re tired. You may go through any door that opens for you. Do not go through any that remain closed.”
“Yes, sir,” Dean said, confused. It didn’t sound much like an imprisonment to him.
“And you may not leave the manor property.”
That was more like what he expected. “Yes, sir,” he said softly.
The creature moved at last, leaning back in his armchair as if to look at Dean fully for the first time. Not only did the cloak cover his face but he wore a mask as well, and his eyes were in shadow. There was a long silence while Dean felt he was being scrutinized from head to toe.
“What is your name?” the being said at last.
“Dean. Dean Winchester.” Dean hesitated. “What do I call you?”
The creature was silent for a long while. “You may call me Beast.”
Dean said, “Yes, sir,” and scuffed the toe of his boot on the floor.
“You may go,” the Beast said.
“And do what?”
The Beast regarded him. “Read a book,” he said. “Take a walk. Breakfast will be ready by nine o’clock, fresh clothes for you by tonight.”
“Yes, sir,” Dean said, confused again. “So I can go anywhere as long as I stay on the estate, and I can do anything I want as long as I don’t go through any locked doors, is what you’re saying.”
“Why? I thought I was coming here to be your prisoner. My father was going to be your prisoner.”
“Your father,” the Beast said with difficulty, “would have been treated the same. I do not have a dungeon here. I merely –” One of his legs jerked and he said, “It is none of your concern. Go.”
Dean looked at him, still confused. “Yes, sir.” He left the study and went back into the main hall.
Read a book? Go for a walk? He sighed and walked slowly up the stairs, supposing he had permission to explore a little. The stairs were carpeted with in rich deep red, and the carpet continued through the upper gallery. Dean looked at the paintings as he went, but they gave him no clues about what might have happened to Castiel Messenger. They were just family portraits, some from centuries ago, or pretty landscapes, some of the manor, some of other houses he supposed were back wherever the family had come from.
One of the doors swung open as he walked past, so Dean looked in. it was just a bedroom, bigger than any room he’d slept in before in his life, with a curtained bed and an open wardrobe and other furniture he didn’t know the names of or purpose for.
This, he supposed, was his.
He went into the room and put down his bag, and looked over his shoulder as the door shut behind him. “Okay,” Dean muttered and set about unpacking his belongings. There wasn’t much: a few changes of clothes, another pair of boots, a few books, his journal filled with jotted notes and spells. He put his clothes in the wardrobe and his books in the bookcase, and then sat on the bed and wondered what to do now.
He hadn’t heard the door lock, so he got up and tried the knob. It turned in his hand, which he didn’t expect, but he opened the door and went out into the gallery again.
No other doors opened for him upstairs, nor on the third floor, but when he returned to the first floor one after the other did, leading him to a library, a music room, a conservatory that was half-glass and filled with flowers, and finally a dining room. The long table was ready for a feast, dishes of fruit and sausage and rolls and toast and coffee and juice, and that was only what wasn’t under covered trays. There was only one place set, and Dean supposed it was for him.
Dean sat and poured himself some coffee. He ate a strip of bacon. It was delicious, thick and smoky-flavored. The butter was new, the toast had a sweet vanilla taste to it, there was cinnamon and brown sugar for oatmeal, and before Dean knew it he’d filled his belly to its capacity. He pushed back from the table and sipped his coffee slowly, enjoying the unfamiliar feel of a relaxing breakfast and a full stomach.
Sam would polish off the rest of this, Dean thought, he was growing so fast he ate enough for two or three at every meal. Dean put down the coffee cup and left the table, and his throat hurt with missing his brother.
He left the manor house and walked the length of the avenue from the manor to the gates. The gatehouse was empty, and of course the massive doors didn’t swing open for him. He walked back.
By the time darkness fell, Dean had discovered the gardens, the gazebo, the kitchen garden, and a grove of oak trees that felt ancient and quiet as a church. He walked back to the house, finally hungry after his enormous breakfast, and smelled roast beef the moment he stepped inside. He grinned and hurried to the dining room.
Again the table was set with food for twenty people but only one plate. He took the plate and filled it with beef and potatoes and vegetables and a thick slice of triple-layer chocolate cake, and poured himself a glass of red wine.
He nearly dropped it all when he saw the Beast sitting in the chair opposite his. “Oh!” he said, and then felt foolish. “I didn’t know if I’d see you tonight. Or ever. I thought I’d see you during the day but I didn’t and then I thought maybe you’d left …”
“Sit and eat,” said the Beast, so Dean did so.
A few bites into his meal he said, “Aren’t you eating?”
“No,” the Beast said. “I won’t eat in front of you.”
“Why not? You can’t be that hideous.” The Beast was silent, and Dean put down his knife and fork. “I’m sorry. That was awful of me.”
“You are very young,” the Beast said.
“Yes, sir,” Dean said and after a moment picked up his fork again and resumed eating.
After a few minutes the Beast began to speak. His voice was low and gruff, but not unpleasant to listen to. He told Dean the story of a god who took on the form of a swan to seduce a woman he loved, and Dean thought the Beast pitched his voice almost as if he were casting a spell.
By the time he reached the end of the tale, with the woman giving birth to the god’s children in the form of golden eggs, Dean’s plate had long been empty and he’d drained several glasses of wine. “That’s . . . that’s one hell of a story,” Dean said.
“It’s very old,” said the Beast. “Dean.” He raised his head a little, his face still in shadow. “Will you share your bed with me tonight?”
Dean inhaled, feeling the question like a shock to his system. “I — I — no,” he whispered and bowed his head, expecting the Beast to rage and finally toss him into a locked windowless room.
“Very well,” the Beast said, and as Dean looked up, surprised, the Beast rose from his chair and stumped away, leaning heavily on his gnarled cane.
When Dean went to bed that night, he did not lock the door. He almost did, but decided it would be interpreted as bad faith and left it simply closed instead.
He slept deeply, and dreamed of a man with wide blue eyes and wild dark hair and a mouth that looked as lush and delicious as sin. In his dream Dean approached him, knowing he would be welcomed as a friend, and the man embraced him and kissed his mouth. “Say yes to me,” the man whispered, and he was so beautiful Dean almost did.
This was the pattern of his days. In daylight, he explored, rode the great black horse around the estate, walked in the gardens and even pulled weeds sometimes, though as winter grew closer there was less and less to do out there. If it rained he pressed keys on the piano and tried to make music, or read books from the library about countries that were far away or times that were long gone. Meals were abundant and served the moment he thought he was hungry. If he was cold he woke to a fire burning in his fireplace or there would be one kindled in the room where he intended to spend the day.
The Beast joined him each night at supper and told him a story, and at the end of each story he asked, in a humble tone, “Dean, will you share your bed with me?”
Every night Dean told him no. Every night Dean dreamed of the beautiful man who begged him, “Say yes to me,” and every night Dean told him, “I will, when I see you, I will.”
Many of the doors in the manor remained closed to him. Dean did not try any of the knobs, but he often stood in front of this closed door or that and tried to listen for sounds of what was within. He had begun to suspect the beautiful man was not just a figure of his dreams but someone imprisoned here. He had begun to suspect the man was Castiel Messenger.
He wished Sam and his father were here, so that he had someone to share all of this with. Sam could figure out any mystery with his sharp and curious mind, and his father was tenacious and methodical. That was the worst of his imprisonment, really, that he had no one to talk to except the Beast.
At least the Beast was interesting. He knew so many stories, and he’d seen places Dean had never even heard of. Their talks at supper grew longer and longer, and were soon no longer limited just to the dining room — they would walk to the library or the study, the Beast leaning on his cane until one night Dean offered his arm, and one story would lead to another until Dean couldn’t keep his eyes open a moment longer.
And then came the question. “Dean, will you share your bed with me?”
It became harder and harder to say no.
At the first real snow Dean spent all day making snowballs and building a fort. There was no one to have a snowball fight with, but Dean didn’t care. The snow was perfect and it was so much fun to just play like he was still a boy. He still missed Sam terribly and wanted to talk to him, but he was happy. He hadn’t believed he could be happy here.
The sun set early, turning the sky pink before it sank, and supper was stew to warm him. Dean wrapped himself in a sweater and sat close to the fire to eat, and when the Beast joined him he asked Dean gravely, “With whom are you planning to go to war?”
“Whoever tries to invade us,” Dean said cheerfully. “That’s what the walls are for, right? To keep out your enemies?” The Beast steepled his fingers and gazed at him. “I mean, why else would you build walls?” Dean said, feeling that he was saying the wrong thing entirely but not sure how to fix it. “To keep people out so that they don’t . . . point and laugh.”
“Or chase after me with holy water and wooden stakes,” the Beast said.
“You’re not dangerous.” The Beast did not chuckle or even nod. “You’re not dangerous to me.”
“Very kind of you to notice.”
Dean said, no longer joking at all, “I’m not afraid of you, you know. I like you. I like being with you.”
The Beast lowered his head and said nothing. Dean rose from the dining table and went to him, and knelt in front of him on the hearth rug. The Beast turned his head away and Dean put his hands on the Beast’s knees. “Look at me?” he whispered, and the Beast reluctantly did so. The hood of his cloak was drawn low over his face, as always, but Dean thought he caught a glimpse of blue eyes in the shadow. “Why do you hide yourself away?”
“Because I am hideous,” the Beast whispered.
“Was it a fire? Is that why you limp? You were injured in a fire?”
“No,” the Beast whispered. “It was not a fire. Please, Dean, don’t ask me questions. You must be tired. You were out in the snow all day. Go to bed.”
Dean stood reluctantly and started to trudge away. He stopped and turned back. “Where do you sleep?”
“Alone,” said the Beast.
In the morning the snow was falling too hard to go outside, so Dean, once he had eaten, went past every door in the manor and looked into every room where the door opened. He did not see the Beast in any of them, and by midmorning he was so frustrated he wanted to stand in the gallery and shout for him until he appeared.
Instead he chose a door at the far end of the hall and cast an opening spell. He had picked many locks in his life, and this one opened easily under his careful hands. He pushed the door open and peered into the room. It was gloomy, its curtains were drawn, and it smelled of dust. There was furniture covered with sheets, but otherwise it was empty.
He closed that door and tried another. All were dusty, empty and gloomy, and no door resisted his simple magic. He went up to the third floor and began the same routine down the row of doors.
He opened one of the last doors and peered inside. As with the others, sheets covered the furniture, but unlike the others one curtain was slightly pulled back to reveal the thickly falling snow outside. The wood floor was bare and the dust showed signs of someone who had paced back and forth many times. At the end of the room was a large dressmaker’s dummy, which seemed out of place given the tattered richness of the room. Dean approached the dummy, hoping to find some kind of clue about Castiel Messenger in the clothes left behind, when suddenly the dummy turned and shouted, horrified, “Dean!”
Dean stopped, too shocked too speak. It was no dressmaker’s dummy. It was the Beast without his cloak, and he looked like no man Dean had ever seen. He was taller than Dean had thought, now that he stood up straight, and his skin was as grey as stone. He wore a shapeless sack made of roughly-woven linen, which fell to just below his knees and revealed his jutting ribcage and collar bones. A pair of wings spread out from each shoulder as Dean watched, then another from his waist. His wings were black as night and at least as wide as he was tall. He had four eyes, two where men had them and another pair above, and both pairs were blue as a summer sky. His ears were long and pointed. His feet were like a man’s but his hands curled and his middle fingers were fused together, twisting back on themselves. His nails on both hands and feet were long and thick as claws.
“Don’t look at me!” the Beast cried, throwing up his hands before his face, and he crouched as if trying to make himself smaller. “Get out of here!”
Every nerve in Dean’s body screamed to run away from this creature. Instead he took a resolute step forward, and then another and another, until he stood in front of the Beast’s trembling body. He took hold of the Beast’s hands and the Beast gasped as Dean gently removed them from his face.
“Please don’t look at me,” the Beast whispered.
“I can’t help it,” Dean said. He took a deep breath as he gazed into the Beast’s eyes, at his face. “You’re beautiful.”
“Don’t mock me.”
“I’m not. You are terrifying but you are beautiful. You’re like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
“Leave me,” the Beast whispered and turned his face away, his eyes closing. “I should send you away for this.”
“But you won’t,” said Dean as he touched the Beast’s cheek. His skin was smooth and cool. “You’ve been alone for years because of this, haven’t you? And now here I am, and you like me, and I like you, and I’m not afraid of you. Not even like this.”
The Beast still would not look at him and he said again, “Go.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Dean said, but left the room nonetheless.
The Beast did not join him at supper, and Dean, when he went to his room to sleep, thought all the gifts he’d been given might be gone. They were not, however, so Dean put on his nightshirt and got into bed.
He couldn’t sleep, though, and finally got up again and put his clothes back on. He wanted the Beast. He wanted to hear his voice and touch that smooth, otherworldly skin once more.
Torches lit themselves as he walked through the gallery and down the staircase, and the massive front doors flung themselves open for him. Dean went through the doors and followed the drive to the stables where, he was not surprised to see, more torches were lit.
He found the Beast in a stall with the great black horse, wrapped in his big black cloak. He sat hunched forward with his arms on his knees, and the horse nudged against him as if to comfort him.
Dean said quietly, “Blackie’s not afraid of you.”
“His name is Goliath.”
“Of course it is.” Dean slid down the stall wall to sit beside the Beast.
“I learned to ride on his back.” The Beast held Goliath’s muzzle. “I think I must smell the same.”
“My father has one like him. His name is Creedence.”
“That’s a strange name.”
“Sometimes my father is a strange fellow.” He watched the Beast as he slowly stroked Goliath’s long nose. He said softly, “”What happened? Were you born this way?”
“No,” the Beast whispered. “I was born a man, just like you. I was even called beautiful. I was the cherished son of an old family, and I would have nothing around me that was not also pleasing to my sight.”
He fell silent.
“Tell me,” Dean said. “This is the story of what happened to Castiel Messenger, isn’t it? He’s not dead, he’s you.”
The Beast turned his head at last to look at Dean. “How do you know that name?”
“That’s why my father came to this manor in the first place. The townspeople think a demon killed you.”
“No demon,” the Beast murmured. “Only me, as hideous as any demon.”
“You’re not hideous,” said Dean. “Tell me the story.”
The Beast said slowly, “After my parents died, I went through their money as if it were water. I gambled. I threw parties that lasted for weeks. I gave my lovers gifts that far outstripped their devotion. People who claimed to be my friends came to eat my food and drink my wine, and took my money at cards and dice without a second thought.
“I didn’t care, so long as I was surrounded by flattery and beauty and amusements.
“Then one day, as it was raining, an old woman came to my door and begged to be allowed to rest her feet in my kitchen and perhaps have a crust of bread to eat. She was so gnarled and bent I refused her. I told her I would have no creature as repulsive as she in my house.”
He stopped and hid his face as if ashamed. Dean hesitated and then placed a hand on his back. After a few minutes the Beast removed his hands from his face and continued, “Before my eyes she transformed from a wrinkled crone into a beautiful and terrible fairy, and I knew, though I’d never seen her, she was the fairy who guards my family. She called me by name and said I was a disgrace to my family name, that no son of my family had ever been so selfish. She cursed me, saying that until someone came to me freely and stayed for love, my form would be as ugly as my heart.
“She transformed me. It was the most painful experience I have ever had. My hands . . . my back . . .” He held his hands out in front of him. “My face. I could hardly breathe throughout. I thought I would die. And then when it was over . . . I was this creature.
“My guests, my lover, my servants, they all fled in terror. I used some of the magical objects in my family’s possession to build the walls around the estate so that no one would look at me, and this same magic has kept the estate running and food on my table, and when people came to rob my house or hunt me I used the magic to take away their memory of what they found.
“When your father came, I saw he was a hunter and I knew he would not be afraid. He would not run from me. I hoped he might want to stay a while, that perhaps we could speak together of interesting places and people — but then he tried to take a precious amulet and I . . . I lost my temper.”
“That was for me,” Dean said softly. “He said it resembles an amulet I had when I was young that I lost. It was to be a gift for me.”
The Beast murmured, “Your father has a generous heart.”